TORONTO, Dec. 16 /CNW/ - Ontario should become a safer place in which to
work if the recommendations put forward today by an expert advisory
panel studying workplace health and safety are fully implemented.
"We welcome the changes announced today by Labour Minister Peter Fonseca
and we fully anticipate he will put into law all 46 recommendations,"
said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service
"These proposed changes would not have been possible had it not been for
the extensive contributions made by organized labour to the expert
advisory panel and we are pleased that chair Tony Dean has incorporated
many of our recommendations to the extent that he did."
Working in collaboration with Ministry of Labour occupational health and
safety inspectors, OPSEU participated in the consultation process and
in June released two written submissions that contained several
recommendations that found their way, at least in part, into today's
report by the expert panel.
Chief among those recommendations was a call by OPSEU that the powers of
Ministry of Labour inspectors be strengthened when investigating
reprisals against workers who report unsafe working conditions.
However, the report fell short of an OPSEU recommendation that
inspectors be given the authority to reinstate workers who are victims
of employer reprisals.
OPSEU also welcomed the panel's recommendation that every Ontario worker
and supervisor must receive mandatory information about workplace
rights and responsibilities before they start their job.
The government will establish a new office, within the Ministry of
Labour, under the direction of a Chief Prevention Officer whose mandate
will be to ensure that all worksites operate in compliance with the
"The Chief Prevention Officer will ensure Ontario's injury prevention
priorities and programs are coordinated and integrated with the
province's enforcement system. The officer will also oversee Ontario's
Health and Safety Associations and report annually to the Minister,"
the Ministry said in a statement.
Going into the review there were some fears that the Ministry's
enforcement duties would be lost, but the report made clear that this
function must remain inside the department. Also left intact was the
role and funding of the Workers Health and Safety Centre and the
Occupational Health Centres for Ontario Workers.
Len Elliott, a Ministry of Labour safety inspector and OPSEU activist,
said overhaul of Ontario's health and safety system was long overdue
but he welcomed the panel's recommendations and the role played by
labour in fashioning the changes.
"It is deeply regrettable that it took the deaths of four young men on a
construction site in Toronto last December to trigger the work of the
panel; but now that its work is complete we will be watching very
closely to ensure that all the recommendations are implemented to the
fullest in order that Ontario becomes a safer place for working people
on the job," said Elliott.
To read OPSEU's written submission to the Expert Advisory Panel please
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: For further information:
OPSEU Health & Safety Officer